After its Senate counterpart made clear that it had no intention of doing so, the House Intelligence Committee announced that it plans to publish the Russian-bought Facebook ads that the company provided as part of the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
The news comes on the heels of a meeting between Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and the House’s intel leads, Chairman Mike Conaway and ranking Democrat Adam Schiff.
“We will be releasing them from our committee,” Schiff said. “We’ve asked for Facebook’s help to help scrub any personally identifiable information, but it’s our hope that when they conclude, then we can release them publicly.”
Last week, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr stated definitively that his committee was not at liberty to publish the 3,000 ads in question and that it did not make a practice of releasing documents provided to it during the course of an investigation. The Senate committee called on Facebook as well as Twitter and Google to release any ads with links to Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election to the public.
Those tech companies have yet to do so, which some in the legal community believe is due to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a 1986 wiretapping law that is still consulted as a legal framework in many online privacy matters.
The ads will likely be released after November 1, the date that Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to appear in open hearings as part of the House and Senate’s respective Russia investigations.